Great Taste Chinese Restaurant (鄭家莊)
Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
By now I think it’s well-established that despite the fact that I’m from Hong Kong, I’m obsessed with food from other parts of China. While I’m currently known for my love for bold, spicy Sichuan cuisine, before I built up my tolerance for spice, my obsession for non-Cantonese food started with the dumplings and noodles of Shanghai. Great Taste Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown offers the best of both worlds, with a smattering of dishes from other regions of China as well.
I was first introduced to Great Taste by David of City Fish, who told me I had to go there to try their Steamed Shanghai Pork Dumplings (aka soup dumplings aka XLB). While they remain a signature dish at Great Taste, I honestly think that the ones at U & Me are better – they’re more flavourful, more soupy and hold their heat a little better. Still, Great Taste has a lot of great dishes that keep me coming back – here are just a few of them:
I strongly believe that their Basa Fish Boiled in Spicy Soup (note: translation may not be accurate as I generally order in Chinese – I call it 水煮魚) is the best in the city. Yes, even better than at my favourite restaurant. Amongst all the chillies is the most tender fish, as well as a few bean sprouts and cabbage that have soaked up all the spice. Best of all, Great Taste has its hands on some of the freshest Sichuan peppercorns and manages to incorporate its distinctive floral flavour without the dish being unbearably spicy.
The Dan Dan Noodles (擔擔麵) are another favourite, and a huge improvement from its predecessor, MBA BBQ Noodle House. Great Taste’s version of the famous Sichuan dish features chewy noodles in a rich, spicy, peanutty broth, with a garnish of cucumber and green onion for colour and crunch.
The Stir-Fried Green Beans with Minced Pork (乾煸四季豆) are savoury and garlicky, and although lightly dotted with chillies, was not very spicy at all. I do think the ones at Szechuan Restaurant have just a bit more crunch though.
For a sweet treat, my sister loves their fried Shanghai buns (炸銀絲卷), which are served with condensed milk for dipping.
The buns come steamed or fried; both versions are known for the soft, steamy centres, that can be ripped into spaghetti-like strands.
Another Shanghainese favourite of mine are the Stir-Fried Rice Cakes (炒年糕). The savoury flavour profile with soy sauce, beef, cabbage and green onion, is very similar to the Shanghai Fried Noodles, but the long, thick noodles are replaced with small, chewy rice cakes, making for a nice change as the starchy component to the meal.
Great Taste is clean and bright, and service is friendly for a Chinese restaurant. The menus are big and colourful, with lots of pictures, making it easy to order. My only quibble with the menus is that the pictures often correspond to the next page as opposed to the opposite page, so you may find yourself flipping back and forth to find the items you want.
All in all, I think Great Taste lives up to its name and I will continue to be a regular patron.